I have a lot to think about where it comes to being an active and present father. Of course I want to see my child every day of his young life, but I have a lot happening in Oregon. I also know Sookie has no desire to move back. As easy as it would be, Portland has a lot of negativity surrounding it, not only for her but for me too. Yes, I was able to get better in the same environment. I own a business and my entire family is there. When I look over at Sookie and I see my future standing right next to me. On one hand it is a lot to think about, on the other I know I’ll never be able to live with myself if I stay in Portland. It’s been weighing on my mind since finding out I’m going to be a dad. I know Sookie can tell, although she hasn’t bugged me about it. She knows it’s something I have to work out on my own.
After seeing my son on the monitor, moving and wiggling around, it kinda cements the changes I’m going to make.
“I’m going to sell the doggie daycare,” I blurt out as we walk along the beach. It’s later in the afternoon so there’s not a lot of people. The dogs went for a swim in the morning so we have them on leashes, keeping them out of the water.
“What?” Sookie looks at me as if she’s not sure she heard me correctly.
I look down and repeat, “I’m going to sell it. The business is doing way too well to close it. I’m going to see if any of my employees want to buy it from me. If not, I can have a manager and be a silent owner. I’m going to be a dad and I’m not going to let a second of that go to waste.”
“Wow,” she says. “I mean, I’m not really that surprised you want to be involved, considering the way your childhood was. I was worried it was going to be a fight to get me back to Oregon. It’s a beautiful place there but I just… I go back and I feel… not good.”
“I know, and it shows,” I tell her. “Seeing you there compared to here… it’s night and day. I want our baby to get the best of both of us. This place brings out the best you, and the best me is anywhere you are. Like you said, when it happens it’s not moving on, it’s the next chapter. This feels like the next chapter of my book and our journey.”
Sookie stops walking so she can hug me. It doesn’t take long to figure out she’s crying.
“What’s wrong?” I chuckle. I hug her back and kiss the top of her head.
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”
“Good.” I kiss her head again. “I’m glad you’re happy. I’m going to make some calls tomorrow. I have a house to sell too. As much as I love that house I think it’s going to be refreshing to let it go. I think it’s an appropriate release.”
Sookie looks up at me with wet cheeks and a big smile.
“I think you’ll get into the Aloha spirit in no time,” she says.
“I’m already there.” I dip to kiss her lips, earning a bark from Artis. I still don’t know who she’s mad at when we kiss. Could be either of us… “My mom is going to be pissed,” I chuckle as I pull back from the kiss. I give no shits about that.
Sookie shrugs. She gives no shits about it either.
“Don’t be a shit person,” she says. “I’ve done my share of shitty things, but I at least try to be better.”
“And look at you, you’re doing amazing,” I grin. “I hope they need a doggie daycare here. If not, I’m switching gears.”
“You know, I don’t know if there’s a need for a doggy daycare here. Might be good to switch gears. Give yourself a fresh start. You could be my secretary, of course I’ll probably start sexually harassing you. These second trimester hormones are ridiculous.”
“Do you think we could really work together?” I smirk. “I don’t think we’d ever get anything done.” I drop my hands to grab her sexy ass.
She laughs and says, “I would go out of business in like three days. Working together is probably not the best idea. However, working from home will come in handy with a new baby in the mix. Or it’ll be awful. I guess we’ll see.”
“I think it’ll be fine. You’re going to be a great mom. I know you have your fears but I have none. That said, depending on what I end up doing you may want to find a separate office space when the baby is a few months old. For your sanity,” I say.
“Well there’s always the possibility of finding a bigger house. The condo’s been great for Artis and me, but throw in Björn, a baby, and an Eric, and suddenly the condo is looking mighty small.”
“I know I’m the one that makes it small,” I tease. “Speaking of Björn… when I go home to take care of everything how would you feel if I leave him with you so I don’t have to take him back and forth so many times?”
“I would be okay with that. Do you think he would be okay with that?”
“I think I’ll have to FaceTime with him every day. He might get a little whiny sometimes but I’ll make things as quick as possible.”
“At least he’ll have a buddy again. He and Artis seem to be getting along just fine.”
“I think his mild manners are good for her and vice versa. I know he still misses Bear, but he’s healing. She’s helpful.”
“It’s hard to stay sad around her silly butt.”
“That’s true. I think she’s going to be a great big sister.”
“Me too. She knows I’m pregnant, by the way. Before you took her spot on the couch, she used to lay down with her head on my belly.”
“Dogs are smart,” I say.
“I also wouldn’t be surprised if she can hear that tiny heartbeat.”
“Most likely. I’m sure if Björn got close enough to you he’d check your belly out too. He was really sensitive when Jade got pregnant. Not that you know who Jade is,” I say. “She’s one of my employees. He would guard her constantly and redirect dog traffic until she made him knock it off.”
“You trained him to do that, didn’t you? Don’t lie.”
“Nope,” I laugh. “He’s just a gentleman like that.”
“You’ll see. Especially if I leave him here with you. He’s seriously the smartest dog I’ve ever met,” I say. I reach up to brush a stray hair off of her cheek. “Are you sure you’re ready for me full-time again?”
“Honestly, I’m not sure. I guess we’ll find out.”
“Yeah. When I sell the house we can use whatever I make as a down payment on a bigger place so we’re not right on top of each other.”
“It would also be nice for the dogs and the kid to have room to run,” Sookie comments. “The good news is that we’ll never be far from the beach. We might not be in walking distance like we are now, but Maui’s not that big of an island.”
“I think we’ll make it work no matter where we end up.”
“I hope so.”
I dip my head to kiss her again
“Have you felt our little guy move yet?” I know it’s only a matter of time before it happens.
“I’ve been feeling bubbles and flutters, but that’s about all.”
“Hopefully I don’t miss too much when I go home,” I say. “I’m going to try to make the transition as fast as possible.”
“I promise I’ll keep you informed.”
“Good. Video chats galore,” I laugh.
“Absolutely. I’m sure Artis will insist on it.”
“Oh, I’m sure she will too. It’ll just make me want to get back to you more.”
“While you’re gone, I can do some looking around at houses if you like,” Sookie offers. “The great thing about video chats is that I can take you on a virtual tour of a place.”
“I’d like that. Are your preferences the same as last time?”
“Mostly. I’m not so interested in a farmhouse looking house now. I don’t think it would look right here. I’ve been spoiled with my balcony, so I would love to have some of those doors that open completely. I might regret that when the kid is on the move.”
“You might. As long as we have the proper security gates in place we’ll be fine,” I shrug.
“Or we can get him and the doggos electric shock collars. They’ll all be doing the Thriller dance in no time,” Sookie jokes.
“I’m into that,” I laugh. I hug Sookie tight. She’s better now than she ever was. That soulmate feeling that never really went away, but the deeper feelings for her are well on their way back.
“So I know it’s kinda soon to bring it up, but I’ve been thinking about names. I think I have one I really like,” she tells me.
“Oh yeah?” Names have been the farthest thing from my mind. The fact I’m going to have a whole new human depending on me to be a good dad is what’s been going through my brain.
“Yeah. We don’t have to have that discussion yet. I know you’re still processing all of this. I just wanted you to know I’ve thought about it.”
“What’s the name?”
“I think you’ll really like this one.” Uh oh. “Boo Bear the Second.”
“Is The Second written out like a middle name or double I?” I ask, running my fingers through her hair.
“Written out. Double letters makes it sound like it’s a kid’s movie,” she snickers. “Honestly, Eric, I don’t know where your head goes.” Sookie nudges my side.
“I like to think of all of the options,” I laugh. “I’m perfectly happy with Boo Bear the Second as a nickname and his in utero name.”
“Good, because I wouldn’t actually name my child that.” Thank. God. “The name I’ve had bouncing around my brain is Chance.”
I smile at that. “Chance isn’t a bad name. Chance is a really good name and fitting seeing where we are in life.”
“Where we are, where we’ve been, where we’re headed… It doesn’t have to be his first name, but something about it really speaks to me.”
“I like it. It’s not as charming as Boo Bear the Second, but it has its merits,” I say, rubbing my hand down her back. I actually really like the name. I even like it as a first name.
“Well let it marinate in your gray matter. I’m open to other options.”
“Chance Northman,” I try out loud. “Providing he’s going to be a Northman. I hope he will be.”
“Of course he will. You’re his dad. There is no possibility of it being anyone else.”
“You know, that never occurred to me. It might have been presumptuous, but when I found out I just knew he’s mine,” I tell her.
“I’ve been on dates in the last few years,” she tells me. “I was seeing someone pretty steadily for a while, but it ended three months before I came back to Portland.”
“I’ve also dated some. The last serious girlfriend was Sylvie. That’s by choice,” I say. “The guy you dated, he’s not going to show up trying to see you again, is he?”
“You mean is he going to try and woo me back? I sincerely doubt it. I do see him sometimes on the beach since that’s where we met. He knows I’m pregnant. He also knows it’s not his. I think he’d shit himself to death if it was.”
“Then I’m sure I’ll meet him someday too.” I smile and add, “Hey, look at me. Not a jealous dickhead.”
“Say whaaaaaat? He’s a hugger, just so you know. Really, he’s a nice guy. There was just something missing, you know?”
“I hope he knows he’s hugging me just as tight as he hugs you. If he doesn’t then I’ll get jealous. As for the something missing, I get it. Sylvie has found her forever, by the way. She met and married a man named Stan. They have a set of one-year-old twins. She’s way happier than she ever was with me.”
“Good for her. As for the ex, he will absolutely hug you. Once he knows you, don’t be surprised if you get flying tackled from behind,” she laughs. “He’s like a cross between a giant puppy and a giant black bear cub. It’s a good thing you like to cuddle, because Rasul will cuddle you until you can’t stand it anymore.”
“Very good to know,” I laugh. “At least I’ll have a friend on the island.”
“You’re a social guy. I’m sure you’ll make friends in no time.”
“I’m sure I will. I’m nervous but excited about moving here. I just hope things at home go smoothly.”
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that things always have a way of working out the way they’re meant to.” Sookie gives my hand a squeeze. “Can we head back? I have to pee.”
“Yeah.” I lift her hand to kiss the back.
Sookie and I tug the dogs so we can head back to her condo.
My life has gone through a lot of changes in the last couple years. I’ve seen a therapist for much of that time. That’s been the best thing for me. All of those changes have led to this moment. Me walking my pregnant girlfriend back to her condo with our dogs. This is seriously the life I’ve always wanted. I guess it’s true, good things come to those who wait. My good thing is about 5’6″ with blonde hair and the prettiest blue eyes I’ve ever seen.